The general structural organization of the neocortex
The cerebral cortex is a transfer station for neuronal signals. In this respect it resembles the other laminated structures and nuclei of the central nervous system. The functional significance of a certain area of the cerebral cortex for the functions of the entire brain, and thus for behaviour, is determined by the origin of its afferents and the target of its efferents. The input signals arriving via afferent fibres are linked by convergence and internal inhibitory or excitatory intracortical connections. A specific feature of the cortex is that it connects, through association fibres, areas with different functional connections which have distinct and different thalamic input and motor output. It thus gives the brain the opportunity of relating various functional subsystems to each other. Afferent, efferent, and internal connections throughout the whole neocortex have basically similar structural and functional characteristics, despite apparent local morphological (cytoarchitectural) differences.
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